2A Girls Basketball: Bearcats Start Slow, Finish Fast to Reach State

Images from a District 4 2A girls basketball tournament semifinal game between W.F. West and Black Hills at Tumwater High School on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019.

SEMIFINALS: W.F. West Quickly Digs Out of Early Hole to Beat Black Hills and Reach District Finals

By Aaron VanTuyl

For The Chronicle

TUMWATER — The Bearcats spotted Black Hills an early lead, but they weren’t about to play from behind for too long.

W.F. West rattled off a 16-2 run late in the first quarter and never trailed again, beating Black Hills 62-46 here Thursday evening in the semifinals of the District 4 2A Girls Basketball Tournament.

The win sealed a regional bid for the Bearcats, who will also return to the District 4 championship game for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.

The playoff implications — an automatic entry into the State 2A tournament in Yakima, given the Bearcats’ top-eight RPI ranking — were vindicating for the Bearcats, who lost star senior Erika Brumfield in the first game of the season and have been without Lauren Tornow and Taya McCallum, both of whom were expected to play big roles this year.

“We never made excuses for it,” W.F. West coach Tom Kelly said. “We had a target on our back. Nobody liked us, everybody wanted to beat us, and for what they did, I think, (this) is a huge accomplishment.”

Courtney Bennett led W.F. West with 20 points, going 8 of 9 from the field, and Annika Waring added a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The start, though, was less than promising. W.F. West turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions and then missed shots on its next four, which helped the Wolves take an 11-2 lead midway through the first quarter.

Those implications may have played a role in the rough start, Kelly said, noting that the loser would have been matched up with either Tumwater or Washougal in a loser-out game.

“It’s tough teams,” he said. “So the magnitude of this one was huge.”

And the Bearcats responded. Bennett scored back-to-back fastbreak buckets, and Maggie Vadala followed with back-to-back three-pointers that gave W.F. West its first lead at 13-12.

“They know how to come back, though, don’t they?” Kelly said. “Come back in a hurry.”

It was all part of a 16-2 run that took just 2 minutes, 20 seconds and put the Bearcats ahead for good.

The Wolves got close in the second half, trimming the lead to 41-38 on a bucket from Addie Ainsworth with 1:36 left in the third. Bennett, though, cashed in a three-pointer on a fastbreak to start a 17-2 run, pushing the lead to 18 points with just under three minutes left in the game.

Megan River, the Evergreen 2A Conference MVP, led Black Hills with 16 points. The Wolves outrebounded W.F. West, 50-32, with 23 offensive rebounds. Maisy Williams added 15 points and 16 rebounds — nine offensive — for Black Hills.

Madi Haakenson added 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals for W.F. West, while Vadala dished out eight assists.

W.F. West will take on Washougal, which beat Tumwater 50-49 on Thursday, at St. Martin’s University at 6 p.m. on Friday evening.

Black Hills will face Columbia River in a loser-out game Friday.

At Tumwater

BEARCATS 62, WOLVES 46

Black Hills    15    9    14    8    —46

W.F. West    18    13    13    18    —62

Black Hills (46) — Bovenkamp 4, Flores 2, Greenfield 3, River 16, Sayahod 2, Williams 15

FG: 20 of 58 —.345 FT: 4 of 8 —.500 Reb. 50 (Williams 16)

W.F. West (62) — Bennett 20, Brumfield 9, M. Haakenson 11, McCallum 2, Mencke 1, Vadala 6, Waring 13

FG: 22 of 51 —.431 FT: 12 of 19 —.632 Reb. 32 (Waring 10)

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